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as the big three, and command a 93% share of the market. they look at the books of businesses and countries and judge how able they are to pay back financial observations. in a complex internet -- international economy, this information is vital to investors. when the bretton woods system of monetary management fell apart in the 1970's, the role of ratings agencies became even more important. the u.s. government gave them the task of assuring financial reliability. the european union has also require banks to increase capital in line with risk exposure. that risk is measured by the ratings agencies. >> the influence of ratings agencies lies on the one hand in the way their evaluation system has been incorporated into legislation. on the other hand, many business contracts are tied to the marks of the ratings agencies. that means certain private investors will only invest if there is a certain rating. >> one such example is the insurance giant allianz, which relies on ratings agencies to invest huge amounts of capital. but that system historically failed on a massive scale and when the agenc
? >> there is a potential connection in the sense that if the u.s. were to default, we would see a big spike in long- term interest rates, so that would affect mortgage rates. it would affect car lending rates. it would affect business lending rates. so all of that could be quite problematic for the whole economy. so that's why, you know, certainly the treasury department and one has to say the federal reserve as well very worried about this. and want to avoid this at all costs. >> ifill: does it have to actually occur or is merely this delay, this debate, is that already putting its own drag on these areas of the economy? >> well, so far i say the uncertainty about what is exactly going to happen, what's going to get cut, what could be affected is giving a lot of consumers and businesses pause, if you will, making it quite risk-averse. and one of the reasons we're going through a soft patch, it's not the only reason, one of the reasons is this uncertainty. and what is triggering is risk aversion on the part of businesses and consumers. so already in a sense they're anticipating or worried about what migh
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